Saturday, June 17, 2017

Software choices for photo editing on Mac (and Windows too)

Apologies if you are a Windows user, as this post will focus on software options for the Mac user. Don't despair though, as there are plenty of choices for you out there and I will do another post soon on what's available for the Windows user. Also, some of the software I will cover in this post will soon be available on Windows too.

Also, I am writing this post from the perspective of the average photographer, rather than the professional photographer. If you make most of your living from your photography then your needs will be somewhat different from those of the photographer who doesn't depend on photography to provide them with a living. I am an experienced photographer and I have, in the past, earned money from my photography, so I understand that professional photographers have different needs.

So, let's begin. Now, many photographers are better at taking photographs than they are at editing, and that's ok. After all, most of us would rather take better photographs that require little or no editing than being rubbish at taking photographs in the first place and then spending hours trying to make the resulting images into something that we would want to share with the world! So, I am going to focus on the ease of use of the software, rather than the advanced features that we are used to seeing in software like Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom.

First up is Photolemur. 

Note: There is now a Windows version available!

Photolemur is described as:
 'the world’s first fully automated solution for creating perfect photos. It works on Mac and PC, automatically analyses and perfects your images, and doesn’t require any manual involvement. Photolemur is designed for anyone who takes photos. Just drag, drop and leave the rest to Photolemur, which will enhance them beautifully using artificial intelligence, smart tech and a bit of magic."
After using the software for a while, the software is probably one of the easiest photo editors to use. After you open your image in Photolemur, the software gets to work straight away. Whilst it's working away in the background, an animation plays (with music) until its finished processing your image. Once finished, you are presented with your image with a slider to show Before and After.

You can choose to export the processed image to your hard drive and that's it! As you can see, there are no options to manually tweak the final image. Now, this could be a problem if you like to tweak your image but for most people, it's a great time saver and that's why I think Photolemur has a lot going for it. The software is quick and the results are better than the original 100% of the time in my experience. Could I achieve better results than Photolemur myself? Yes I could, but it would take me a lot longer and for most images, the results are more than acceptable.

In summary, if you are looking for software that is user-friendly, produces great results in the shortest possible time then go for Photolemur. It's now available for both Mac and Windows. The original version was available as a one-off purchase, which you downloaded to your Mac. Now, the software is available as a subscription, costing $3 per month (paid annually, otherwise $4 per month). There is a premium service available for $5 per month, but currently, there is a special offer running and you can get this for $3 per month (paid annually). The difference between the standard and premium is that you can process up to 100 photos on the standard plan, whilst the premium plan allows unlimited photos. To try Photolemur for free before you decide click here.

Note: I use affiliate links on my blog (unless stated). This means simply that if you do make a purchase or sign up for a paid subscription, that I eventually get paid a small amount by the developers. It doesn't cost you anything but it will help me continue to write this blog! Thanks in advance.
If you do try out Photolemur please let me know what you think in the comments below. BTW the developers are a friendly bunch and if you have any issues or suggestions I am sure they would love to hear from you.

Next up is Luminar.

Luminar is, like Luminar, a recent addition to the plethora of photo editors available. Its developers are Macphun, who are well known for their Mac products such as Aurora HDR 2017Tonality app for Mac and FX Photo Studio.

Luminar is completely different from Photolemur. It is more like a traditional photo editor in that it offers the user more options for tweaking your image. However, it still remains user-friendly and offers plenty of presets to achieve excellent results easily, without you needing to know what a tonal curve is!

The screenshot above shows the Before and After interface (similar to the one in Photolemur). You access this by clicking on the 'compare' icon on the top toolbar (it looks like an opened book). On the right-hand side of the screenshot, you can see other tool options. These are the Move (looks like a hand and keyboard shortcut is H), Masking Brush (B),  Gradient Mask Mode (G), Radial Mask Mode (R), Transform Tool (CMD + T), Clone & Stamp Tool (CMD + J), Erase Tool (CMD + E), DeNosie Tool (CMD + D), Crop Tool (C) and Plugins.

However, these are not the only options. Returning to the top toolbar you will see there are other icons we haven't yet mentioned. Starting with the three icons at the top left, we have Open Image (CMD + O), Batch Processing (CMD + B) and Share Image. The latter one allows you to share your image on various social media sites and via email.

Moving to the middle of the top toolbar, as well as the Compare feature we mentioned above, you also have icons for Zoom In (CMD plus +) and Zoom Out (CMD plus - ) and view at Original Size (CMD + 1). Finally, in the centre, there is an icon that looks like an eye. This is the Quick Preview (\) which shows your image before you made any changes to it. It's similar to the Compare tool but instead of showing just part of the image in it's 'before' state, it shows all of the image.

To the right of these icons, there are a few more. The first two are the Undo (CMD + Z) and History tools. Moving further to the right we find the Histogram and Layers buttons. The final two on the far right, are the Preset Panel and Side Panel buttons. Clicking on these hides or reveals each of the panels.

This brings us nicely onto the Presets Panel. Luminar comes with several sets of Presets: Basic, Street, Outdoor, Portrait, Travel and Dramatic, each of which has several ready-made options. There are also other presets you can download from Macphun's website. Many are free and there are some paid ones available, created by professional photographers and other users.

However, there are other options you can choose if you so wish. These come in the form of Filters and include recognisable one such as Brightness / Contrast, Sharpening and Cross Processing.

As you can see in the screenshot above, there are numerous filters you can choose from and you can use more than one at once. Luminar also has Layers and so you have access to blending modes, just as you would in Photoshop and Lightroom. In all, Luminar has more than 300 tools and features!

Well, that;s just a basic introduction to Luminar. Its offers a fair degree of automatic control (you can just choose one of the many presets and then export your image) as well as offering almost unlimited manual options. In this way, if you wish to learn as you go, Luminar offers more than Photolemur in the way of options. It's possible, with practice, to get quite sophisticated in your editing and achieve remarkable results that rival any produced in more expensive and complex programmes.

If you would like to try Luminar then click here. Currently, as write this post, there is a very good deal on offer. You can get Luminar, together with presets, training video, overlays, e-books and more, all for the reduced price of £64 (reduced from £287)!

So, that's two covered so far. Originally for Mac only, Photolemur is now available for Windows too. Luminar will be available on Windows later this year. To be informed of when it is available, follow this link here.

In my next post, I will look at some more options for editing your photographs. In the meantime, why don't you try the trial versions of Photolemur and Luminar and see if they fit your needs.

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